parks and recreation

Katy is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and received her degree in Recreation & Park Management from Appalachian State University in 2011. Following graduation, Katy worked as a Recreation Specialist for Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation. In March 2015, she was hired by the Town of Indian Trail Parks & Recreation where her main responsibilities include marketing, programming and park projects. Katy is also the East Central Regional rep for the NRPA’s YPN State Associations Committee and is active in the NCRPA YPN with Student Outreach. Outside of work Katy enjoys spending time with her husband and keeping up with her two toddlers.

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Katy is Raising the Bar:

  • By showing up online and offline in so many different professional networks.  She gives VALUE.
  • By understanding her own habits and implementing strategies that would catch her own attention on social media.
  • By empathizing with her audience so that they can relate to their agency
  • By implementing systems to implement creative ideas from staff

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Strategies to get your audience to tag their friends and engage with your office
  • How creating a REACTION in people will help them stop and pay attention.
  • How one of Indian Trail’s event promotion on Facebook reached 1,000,000 people!
  • Why Awesome PRIZES will promote engagement and inspire people to share your post.
  • How to successfully and strategically plan out social media content without burning out

Additional Links:

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Ok!  So now that you’ve new creative strategies for marketing your programs and services, how do you feel?  Let me know in the comments with a GIF!

Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in again!  This week I had the opportunity to talk with Melissa Battite (CPRP!), who is the Director at Lexington Recreation and Community Programs in Lexington, Massachusetts.  Melissa and I actually met at the NRPA conference in Las Vegas in 2015. We were paired through a networking/mentorship event, and we had a great conversation! When I started this podcast, I knew I would want to circle back and talk to Melissa and ask where she is today.

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You can learn more about Melissa on her LinkedIn Profile.

Melissa didn’t know she was pursuing a career in parks and recreation when she spent her summers as a “Playground Supervisor.” During her first year of college, Melissa took an “Introduction to Recreation” class that sparked her interest in the parks and recreation field.  Later in college, she took a tourism class, and finally decided to pursue Parks and Rec as a career after talking with her counselor, Ellen O’Sullivan, Ph.D.  After graduation, Ellen referred her to a 1-year term position in Brookline (near Boston, MA), where she ended up staying for over 20 years.

Google Map Data, 2017

Fun fact for you!  Brookline, MA, has an interesting history; it is home to the first indoor swimming pool in America (built in 1883!) and the oldest playground in America (built in 1871!).

Over the course of 23 years, Melissa worked her way up from Front Line Recreation Leader, Recreation Supervisor I, Recreation Supervisor II, and finally as a Assistant Recreation Director.  During her time at Brookline, she saw a need for a Therapeutic Recreation Program, so she worked to create one.   Listen to her tips for starting your own recreation therapy program in the podcast.

Just a few years ago, a Director position came open in Lexington, MA.  She wasn’t sure she wanted to leave the town of Brookline.

“I was very comfortable, I was very challenged, I loved who I worked with… but I thought, if I don’t take this opportunity to just try, I’ll never know.” – Melissa Battite

She recently moved to Lexington, MA, where she is now a Director of Recreation & Community Programs. As a director, her roles range from administration, to staff development, to goal setting and so much more. She also makes it a priority to visit local parks and facilities to maintain relationships and show her presence in the community.

Melissa raises the bar by:

  • Considering transportation and affordability as critical factors when defining inclusion
  • Maintaining an active presence in the community and in her organization by visiting parks and facilities
  • Learning (and sharing!) from online resources through active membership of NRPA networks
  • Believing that raising the bar for yourself is actually the key to raising the bar in your organization

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Tips for starting a Therapeutic Recreation Program
  • How parks and recreation agencies can partner with mental health organizations, school districts, and local services to achieve incredible goals
  • How justifying the need for parks and recreation is actually an opportunity not a burden.

Resources/Links Mentioned:

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“This is one of the things I love about this industry.  Everyday is different.  We have the built in flexibility to continue to reinvent ourselves no matter what position we are in.” – Melissa Battite

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In this episode, I had the great opportunity to interview Anthony Iracki, MS, CPRP, for an exciting conversation about professional development in the field of parks and recreation. As a young professional, Anthony has some truly incredible insights that are applicable for both current and future leaders. You’ll love this one.  Please share it.

“You are a caretaker of the community, but you need to take care of yourself first.”  – Anthony Iracki


Learn more about Anthony: 

The words “During working hours, we make a living. During leisure hours, we make a life” ring true for Anthony Iracki, a supervisor for the Village of Brown Deer Parks and Recreation Department. Anthony has worked in the field of parks and recreation since the age of 16, and he is passionate about enhancing the quality of life for everyone in his community. His focuses include innovative program development, business partnerships, conservation through education, and social equity in programming. Anthony’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every resident in his community has the opportunity to truly experience life.


“If you want to raise the bar, and you want change, you can’t be afraid of everything that comes with it.” – Anthony Iracki


Anthony is Raising the Bar:

  • By reminding professionals that putting your mental and physical health first is actually the key to serving others best
  • By encouraging us to use the word “no” as motivation to keep pushing towards  long term goals
  • By prioritizing FUN back into our job – because that’s what parks and recreation is all about!
  • By thinking of collaboration as a positive endeavor rather than a threat


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How current leaders in the field can help prepare the next generation
  • The steps that students and young professionals can take to work their way up in the field – hint: it’s all about connection.
  • What the future of parks and recreation look like when Millennials are in leadership positions
  • Tactical approaches for being a leader without the title
  • Why “Culture Creators” can have serious positive impact on your community
  • And so much more… seriously, you gotta listen to this one!


“Leadership is Situational.  Leadership can come from anyone. You just have to not be afraid to fail; to know when to push and know when to step back.” – Anthony Iracki

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Love where you Live by Peter Kageyama

The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungee

NRPA Aquatics Network

Association of Aquatic Professionals

State Associations

Scholarships for NRPA

Young Fellowship Scholarship, Diversity Scholarship

American Academy for parks and recreation administration – Externship

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If you enjoyed this episode, please share it!

Follow Anthony Iracki on LinkedIn


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Renee Raney loves her job. She is the Parks Operations Supervisor of Events for Cheaha State Park. Each and everyday, people travel to the park to participate in the unique programs and activities the park offers.

Whether its “Hammocking 101, the “Women’s Wilderness Weekend,” or the countless other outdoor programs, Renee is behind the scenes making sure that the variety and quality of programs is the best it possibly can be.

She instills her own love of nature in all of the work she does, which is evident to the 36,000 Facebook followers she helps engage on social media. Sometimes she shares recipes for herbal tea, other times she tells a story of a park guest who had an interesting experience.

Most of the followers know her by name and it’s easy to know why. She’s in tune with the community, and has the skills and experience to create and market programs to suit their desires. She makes it look easy.

In reality, many programmers in the field of parks and recreation know that creating a new program can be downright challenging. Beyond developing the idea, the supplies, the staff needed, and the outcomes, you also have to prove that it’s a valuable program to pursue. Renee has developed her own evaluation tool that measures the success of the program (and regularly sees a 600% learning increase!).

To say I was impressed with this tool was an understatement. Then, when Renee mentioned that her program plans look like a movie script, it all made sense.

She’s the director. The staff are the actors. And all of the community is the audience. I can bet that they’d give her a standing ovation for the incredible work she’s doing at Cheaha State Park.

Talking to Renee was like talking to an old friend. I hope you feel the same way when you listen to the podcast.

“Be as perceptive of your audience as you can be. Be real.”

Renee is Raising the Bar…

  • by being data-driven.
  • by creatively using her skills to improve her organization.
  • by being in tune with her community.
  • by authentically sharing her story.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The path Renee took to get to the job she loves
  • How to try new program ideas when there isn’t a proven concept
  • The unique way that Renee is able to track success in programs
  • How Renee manages to engage 36,000+ followers on Facebook

Quick Tips on Social Media from Renee:

  • Each day, schedule hourly Facebook posts for the next day
  • You can post the same things multiple times but there’s a trick to it; remember that there’s a different audience at 9am than at 8pm
  • Bring a personal touch to your comments; put your name behind it if you write it.
  • When promoting an event, create a specific Facebook event page. Then, promote this event 10+ times, exchanging the photos of team
  • If someone shares your post, always comment and say “thank you”

“When you post about success and optimism and the beauty of natural resources and the incredible staff that are keeping it in operation… it’s a win-win.”


Cheaha State Park Facebook Page
Cheaha State Park Website
Alabama State Park

Cheaha State Park is promoting natural resource conservation, outdoor recreation, environmental education, wellness, community, and partnerships in a way that all of those interconnect for the improvement of the individual’s experience and the community’s perception of the park.

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Parks & Recreation Tips

Recruiting Quality Applicants in a Competitive Economy

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Brand the Job.

Learn the art of selling your seasonal jobs.  Position your seasonal jobs as an incredible learning opportunity to build critical job skills while working in a rewarding position.

Optimize Your Application Process.

Gen Z and Millennials will probably be your main recruits for these jobs.  Be sure that you have an online process that is straight-forward and easy to access.  Call applicants back quickly.

Utilize a mixed marketing approach.

Learn Facebook and Google ads to advertise to your next employee.  You can target ads specifically to those you want to see it: local or national audience, young or old, interests and hobbies, unemployed vs employed, etc.  These online tactics can attract serious attention.

Offer Referral Programs.

Your current employees are your best advocates!  Develop a referral program that rewards them for bringing in their friends.  You can bet that they have an active social media to share if the incentives are right: think weekends off, free ice cream, rec pass, etc.

Let Your Culture (& Process) Be Known.

Create a video about who you are and what your organization stands for.  Talk about values that make your team great.  Walk them through the application process, the training involved, and what to expect on a day to day basis.  Clarity up front will make the difference long term.

Give them the perks!

Set your new employees up with a t-shirt, name tag, water bottle, stickers, a backpack, free lunch, etc.  Things that make them feel special.  It shows that they belong.  If it’s cool, they’ll wear it, which means they become a walking advertisement for your organization.

Make information accessible.

Chances are, your information isn’t as accessible as you think. Be sure that your job description is easy to read and easy to find.  Share the new opportunity with community partners, fellow employees, and other user groups through on and offline methods.

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